Darwin Day & What It Means

How will you be spending Darwin Day this year? What…you say you have never heard about Darwin Day? Well, yes, this is a real day, although it has not yet received ‘official’ recognition from the government (read on to find out how this might be changing soon). Basically, the idea behind this is that we should set aside a day to celebrate, recognize, and think about the achievements of Charles Darwin, perhaps the most famous evolutionary biologist to have ever lived.

Darwin Day Darwin Day & What It MeansDarwin Day:

The birthday of scientist Charles Darwin is February 12th. This is also a day that many people who feel very connected and close to his theory of evolution wish to celebrate. There will be groups and organizations hosting a number of Darwin Day events, complete with speeches, presentations, and discussions about how to further the ideas and theories of Charles Darwin even more. Some ideas for events include a home-based scavenger hunt/challenge, a DNA essay contest, or even taking time out of your busy day to read a little about Darwin and his work.

There is even an International Darwin Day Foundation. This is a non-profit educational organization that is dedicated to promoting education to the public and encouraging the celebration of science and humanity. This also falls under the banner of the American Humanist Association, as one of their autonomous programs. By learning more about science and celebrating our accomplishments, we can continue its advancement and also lead to even further improvements in our lives and world, according to the group’s mission statement.

Darwin Day Resolution:

The idea of a well-accepted day to celebrate and remember the achievements of Charles Darwin is also gaining political support. For example, House Resolution 467 was recently (January 29, 2014) introduced. This would, if passed, formally recognize the House of Representatives support for February 12th to be designated as Darwin Day.

This resolution was introduced by New Jersey Democratic Representative Rush Holt. He is also the sole sponsor of this bill. It is interesting to note that Rep. Holt is one of the few members of Congress to hold a Ph.D. in a scientific field. He has been working in close cooperation with the American Humanist Association, which has also issued a press release expressing their satisfaction and hope that this will be the start of more widespread recognition of Darwin and his achievements, along with what they mean for us today.

This is actually not the first time that such a resolution was introduced in Congress. Back in 2013, Holt introduced the same bill (House Resolution 41). Back in 2011, California Representative Pete Stark also introduced the same bill (House Resolution 81). Both of these previous resolutions ended up being killed in Congressional committees.

 Defenders of Evolution:

Of course, the most well known accomplishment of Charles Darwin is his theory of evolution. Those who defend the idea of evolution have seen some recent activity that they have not been pleased about. So far in 2014, there have already been three states to introduce measures that are seen as anti-evolution. The National Center for Science Education also has thrown their support behind this resolution, citing some interesting and perhaps surprising statistics. According to this group, one out of eight high school biology teachers explicitly present and teach creationism and six out of ten are reluctant to teach evolution. So, perhaps passing this resolution could be a step towards promoting more about Darwin Day and what it means.

Written by Jen Ellis of Labroots, who wants to help connect the science world by sharing current science articles. 

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